Problems with steam updating games
This decision was met with concerns about software ownership, software requirements, and issues with overloaded servers demonstrated previously by the Counter-Strike rollout.
Initially, Valve was required to be the publisher for these games since they had sole access to the Steam's database and engine, but with the introduction of the Steamworks software development kit (SDK) in May 2008, anyone could potentially become a publisher to Steam, outside of Valve's involvement to curate games on the service.
Through user polls at the time of its announcement in 2002, Valve also recognized that at least 75% of their users had access to high-speed Internet connections, which would grow only with planned Internet expansion in the following years, and recognized that they could deliver game content faster to players than through retail channels.
At the time, Steam's primary function was streamlining the patch process common in online computer games, and was an optional component for all other games.
It was launched in September 2003 as a way for Valve to provide automatic updates for their games, but eventually expanded to include games from third-party publishers.
Steam offers digital rights management (DRM), matchmaking servers, video streaming, and social networking services.
Normally this is done while connected to the Internet following the user's credential validation, but once they have logged into Steam once, a user can instruct Steam to launch in a special offline mode to be able to play their games without a network connection.
Developers are not limited to Steam's CEG and may include other forms of DRM and other authentication services than Steam; for example, some games from publisher Ubisoft require the use of their UPlay gaming service, In September 2008, Valve added support for Steam Cloud, a service that can automatically store saved game and related custom files on Valve's servers; users can access this data from any machine running the Steam client.
Valve's Half-Life 2 was the first game to require installation of the Steam client to play, even for retail copies.
It also provides the user with installation and automatic updating of games, and community features such as friends lists and groups, cloud saving, and in-game voice and chat functionality.
The software provides a freely available application programming interface (API) called Steamworks, which developers can use to integrate many of Steam's functions into their products, including matchmaking, in-game achievements, microtransactions, and support for user-created content through Steam Workshop.
Before implementing Steam, Valve Corporation had problems updating its online games, such as Counter-Strike; providing patches would result in most of the online user base disconnecting for several days.
Valve decided to create a platform that would update games automatically and implement stronger anti-piracy and anti-cheat measures.The platform also offers a small selection of other content, such as design software, game soundtracks, anime, and films.